Top 10 Tricks to Teaching Young Gymnasts

Kids. We all love them, but controlling them at gymnastics is a tough job. How do you get them to calm down during instruction and then have fun tumbling?

This list might do the trick for you. Ten simple bullet points to remind yourself of what to do and what not to do can help keep you on track.

1-Good lesson plans – Being prepared for the class with a lesson plan will help keep you organized and the students entertained. This will also give you credibility to the students and make them feel like you are in charge. Be prepared for the schedule to go off course or to spend more time on one exercise than you anticipated.

2-Sit/stand in line for lesson – This will keep the students calmer and have some structure to your class. The students are used to being quiet for lessons at school listening to their teacher, so mimicking that will help with creating order in your class.

3-Routine warm up – After class begins, the warm up gets the students focused on the class. The first few minutes may be the kids running around or talking to their friends. When the warm up starts, that’s when the students know to settle down and listen to you. Eventually they will know the warm up by heart and that will prepare them for the class mentally and physically.
4-Be a role model – Being a teacher is a fun job, so make it that way! Encourage the students to do better and improve every day. Show them how you can do a handstand or another exercise to give them more motivation to be like you. Seeing you do something will also give you credibility and they will think that you can help teach them how to do a handstand too!

5-Use positive discipline – Students will inevitably break the rules, drive you crazy, and get your blood pumping. The biggest challenge as a teacher is how you act at these times. One way to help you is to tell the students what they should be doing instead of what they aren’t. For example, say “Susie, please sit with the rest of the class” instead of, “Susie, do not run.”

6-Change your tone of voice – The tone of your voice is extremely important as a teacher. Use a positive tone when giving instructions or encouragement. Change the tone of your voice, not the level, when disciplining. This will get the students’ attention and know that you mean business. Focusing on the tone of your voice rather than the level will help to avoid yelling.

7-Give praise and encouragement – Children love to know when they’re doing something well. A lot of praise and encouragement will help boost their esteem and help motivate them to keep trying. There are also small tokens of praise you can give to the students like stickers, stamps, or points on a bulletin board.

8-Set a consequence for bad behavior – Just like parents have a “time out chair,” having a consequence for bad behavior is also important at gymnastics. Having an “x” on a part of the mat for students to sit on when they misbehave can be helpful to keep everyone in line.

9- Check in to see if they’re listening – Asking things like, “if you can hear me, put your hands on the top of your head,” will get those who are listening’s attention. As long as a couple students hear you, the talkers will wonder why people are putting their hands on the top of their head. Then, they of course figure it out and follow along.

10-Have fun! Gymnastics is a fun sport and you want to make sure your students enjoy coming. Have some fun with them and act silly. Having an organized lesson will keep you in order so that you can have fun and play along with the students.

All of these tips can be applied to your gymnastics classes no matter how big or small they are. Try these tips out and share with us what you have learned. Do you think there are better tricks that we could have added to the list? Let us know!

[Thanks to 4 Star Athletic Complex for the great photo!]

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